A recent visit to see a friend who became a new mother resulted in her complaining that her baby cries a lot. She also said that she often feels her emotions fluctuating, anxious and upset because she doesn’t know what is wrong with her baby and she doesn’t know what to do.
After asking her a few questions, I found out that most of the time she already felt anxious, troubled or upset before her baby begins to cry and that aggravates her feelings.
As a mother of two, I shared my experiences to her on how I unravelled the mystery of my babies’ moods and behaviour.
Your baby senses what you feel
Based on observations I have done on my two babies, those times they cried most were also the times that I felt tired, stressed out and panicky because of the many concerns I had in mind. I even complained about my babies needing too much attention during those times.
Later, I realized that their mood and behaviour were not primarily caused by what they felt at that time but because of what they sensed from me. I had negative emotions then and they seemed to mirror it.
On the other hand, during the times that I felt relaxed they also appeared happy and calm. They would only cry if they were hungry or wet.
This experience could be related to the findings of a study led by Dr. Russell Posey at the University of Chicago in 2000. The results indicated that the babies of parents who felt restless and disturbed also showed restlessness.
This is a clear indication that children perceive the emotions of their parents and they manifest the same feelings as well.
How do babies sense your emotions?
Even when you don’t say anything to your baby while you feel upset, he or she can distinguish your feelings through non-verbal signals such as touch, eye contact, body language, facial expression, space or distance.
There will always be a slight difference in the way that you touch or hold your baby when you feel stressed or when you feel calm. How you look at your baby, the way you pick him or her up and the expressions on your face will all demonstrate your true feelings even if you try to deny it.
Verbal cues such as your speech pattern or the tone of your voice will also reveal that you have positive or negative feelings as you care for your baby. If you are angry or tired, your speech pattern may vary from the tone of your voice when you are not irritated. You might also raise the tone of your voice once you are in a bad mood.
It is beyond human comprehension but babies can understand all the verbal and non-verbal signs that exhibit our feelings. And when they feel that you feel that way they would also display the same emotion and behaviour. The parents are considered their emotional role models so they will only reflect what they sense.
What to do when you feel negative emotions?
Give yourself some time and space to overcome your negative emotions. It is not good to make your baby sense what you feel thereby transferring that negative emotion to him or her. So, it is best to leave your baby in a room where he or she is safe and go out for a few minutes to cool down. Once you have calmed down, then you can go back to taking care of your baby.
There are also other ways you can consider. You can take a time out by hiring a babysitter. Go to the salon or spa or even to the gym. Watch a movie at home with your husband and your baby. Go out on a dinner date with your husband or lunch with your girlfriends. Bake a favourite pastry. Cook your favourite dish. Go to a beautiful scenic place where you can unwind and relax. Come back to your baby feeling recharged and happy.
Remember that a happy and relaxed parent encourages a happy and relaxed baby. So, why you don’t go out and give yourself a break now?
Also read: 10 Secrets of Successful Parents